PRP Now! Taylor Stumberg // Behnisch Architekten

March 31, 2016
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
prp now

PRP Now! aims to showcase the great experiences students encounter within the Professional Residency Program. PRP offers upper-level architecture students a unique opportunity to expand their education through work experience in the architectural profession. Over the past twenty years, our students have been linked with 260 firms in 29 countries. We will feature a handful of students within each session, graduate and undergrad, domestic and international firms. PRP staff mostly recently had the pleasure to speak with Taylor Stumberg [B.Arch. '17] about her experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I'm working at Behnisch Architekten at their main office in Stuttgart, Germany. (They also have offices in Munich and Boston.) Here in Stuttgart, there are about 40 architects and 15 interns, which ends up being a really nice balance of mentors and peers.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
Although Stuttgart is not particularly considered a must-see European city, I really love it here. With only 600,000 people, it's a bit smaller than Austin, but I still feel like there are always things to see and do. Surprisingly, it's an incredibly international city. (I joke that I have met more expats than natives since coming to Germany, and I seem to practice my Spanish as much as my German.) The people completely dispel the cold German stereotype and are super friendly and helpful (and very, very patient with me as I stumble through their language and culture). And, if, at the end of the day, Stuttgart just doesn't do it for you, it's in a great central location; a ton of other fantastic places are just a short train ride away.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
I'm taking a short break from my main project--an expansion of a national cancer research and treatment center--to focus on a student activity and administration center at at a private university in Ukraine. Today's task was to design an enclosable outdoor space on a roof terrace for a flexible meeting room/staff lounge/overflow office space. My project leader popped over every few hours or so to check in with me and provide feedback, so it was basically a day-long charrette.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
Like Stuttgart itself, the Behnisch office is incredibly diverse; there are over 15 countries represented by our staff. Additionally, there's an even mix of genders and ages, which was a very welcome contradiction to the architectural stereotype of offices full of old white men. Most conversation is in German, but people speak English very well and freely when non-Germans are participating. The office itself is laid out in an open floor plan, with all of the projects interspersed. (Even the partner in residence sits at the desk directly to my left.) The proximity between projects allows for people to interact with and learn from one another, even if they're working in completely different teams.  Additionally, the openness lends itself to being a very social setting, and we regularly have parties at the office on Thursday or Friday after work.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
Can I just preemptively apologize to everyone for how much I'm going to talk about missing Germany? After I get that out of the way, I am going to encourage everyone to do PRP. There are just so many things you learn out in the field that can't be taught in a classroom.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Germany has Easter Friday and Monday off as national holidays, so I just got back from spending my long weekend in Prague. However, this Friday, I'll be heading in the other direction and taking an overnight bus to Lyon, France. (Did I mention that I am really, really going to miss being here?)

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
If you're nervous about moving to a new city/state/country/continent, don't be. Take it from a girl who didn't speak a word of German and gets lost any time Google Maps freezes: you are so much more adaptable and capable than you know. It will be scary. It will be exciting. It will give you (and your mother) gut-wrenching anxiety, and it will teach you things about yourself and the world that you never could have imagined. It will be incredibly challenging, and it will all be worth it.